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American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

Faith W., M1

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) is a national organization that strives to advance women in medicine and improve women’s health. Our chapter’s activities include yearly Awareness Weeks centered around different topics relevant to women in medicine, lunch talks, mentorship opportunities with female faculty members, a book club, and the annual Red Dress Affair to benefit the American Heart Association. Highlights of the event include a silent auction and an interclass, boy band dance-off!

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Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)

Mary Z., M1

The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) at WashU is a chapter of the national organization, and it offers great opportunities for medical students interested in health advocacy for Asian Pacific American populations and celebrating Asian Pacific culture. APAMSA hosts regular health screening events in Asian Pacific communities in St. Louis, runs a Chinese clinic, offers classes in medical Chinese, and organizes performances and cultural awareness events. If you would love to practice your clinic skills while helping an underserved ethnic group, learn how to take a patient history in another language, or learn more about the healthcare challenges confronting the Asian Pacific American community, you should definitely join APAMSA!

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Jack L., M1

After engaging in WUMP (the second week of orientation that teaches us about health disparities within the St. Louis community), I was struck by the inequities and health care disparities in St. Louis and wanted an outlet where I could make a difference, albeit a small one, in the lives of those who encounter these disparities. One way to get involved in community service which I sought out is CHOICES (Choosing Healthy Options In our Community, Environment, and Schools) for Youth in Detention. A group of us meet with teens in the St. Louis Juvenile Detention Center for an hour weekly and talk through case studies about a variety of healthcare issues, ranging from mental health to safe sex. It has been amazing how engaging the guys and girls at the JDC are and, frankly, I have learned a lot from their knowledge and experience in some issues. Throughout the weeks of meeting with them, it has been gratifying to build relationships, have a few laughs, and see them connect with the topics. Hopefully, they will apply some of the conversations we had going forward in their lives.

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Interest Groups

Priyanka P., M1

WUSM has a huge range of speciality interest groups, all of which provide opportunities for students to explore different specialties and engage in unique clinical experiences before we hit our clinical rotations in M3. Most specialities have a student-run interest group with faculty advisors; popular groups include: dermatology, internal medicine, ob/gyn, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, pediatrics, radiology, wilderness medicine and surgery. Participating in interest group events allows us to meet physicians and potential mentors at “speed-dating” sessions, helps us set up shadowing experiences, and offers other cool opportunities. Highlights include surgical skills sessions with general surgery residents (we practiced suturing and knot-tying on pig’s feet), and the perinatal project — a program run by the ob/gyn interest group where students are paired with a pregnant mother and can attend her ob/gyn appointments and her delivery.

Medical Student Government

Medical Student Government

MSG Officers, M1

The Medical Student Government (MSG) is the main communication pathway between the student body and the administration. MSG takes an active role in addressing student concerns and is responsible for advancing student interests and welfare to achieve excellence in academic pursuits and professional interactions. Students, faculty, and administrators use MSG extensively as a facilitator of important dialogue. Many large- and small-scale changes in student life at this medical school, from the most recent curriculum changes to a variety of social events, have come about as a result of discussions that have taken place within the framework of MSG.

Each of the four medical school classes elects a class president, a medical education representative (MER), a representative to the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR) of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and a representative to Washington University’s Graduate Professional Council (GPC). In addition to four class representatives, four students are elected as class social chairs to help plan numerous class events and organize orientation activities for the incoming first-year class. Finally, an IT liaison is elected by MSG to serve as the IT/technology voice and address related class concerns. The positions are described in more detail from each representative below.

President: The president has the honor of representing class concerns and ideas to the administration and faculty as well as planning numerous activities. There is a large variety of activities throughout the year, from the M1/M4 mentorship dinner, to admissions breakfasts and pizza parties, to class show, to diversity week, and many more. In addition, if there is a committee for any group, the president most likely serves as a student representative: admissions, student affairs, medical education, alumni relations, diversity, career office, facilities, and even Becker Library construction. Although the role of president is a large time commitment, it is a great honor to represent the class and work with very responsive administration. - Connie Gan, M1 President

MER:  As MER, you serve as the primary point of contact between the administration, course directors, and your fellow students. This position allows you to serve on multiple curriculum committees, help analyze course evaluations and work with course directors to improve their courses, and advocate for your classmates. The administration at WUSM is highly responsive to student feedback, so as MER, you have the potential to make real changes to improve the educational experience for your class and for future years. - Jason Morris, M1 MER

OSR: As a representative of WashU to the AAMC, you have the opportunity to meet faculty and OSRs from other schools at the national AAMC conference and bring back successful ideas to implement here. This position also entails championing professionalism and wellness among your classmates. Key responsibilities in this regard include hosting a yearly M1 Professionalism Luncheon with faculty and students and refining/proposing programs to preserve student wellness. - Gautam Adusumilli, M1 OSR

GPCR: As a GPCR, you get the chance to meet with people from all of the other graduate schools of WashU and the professional schools surrounding the medical campus as well (namely the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Goldfarb School of Nursing). It’s just a great way to get involved outside of the medical school and bring opportunities (social and professional) to your classmates that may otherwise not be possible. - Neel Raval, M1 GPCR

Social Chairs: Basically, being a social chair is the best opportunity to promote balance, entertainment, and general merriment to your classmates.  With the confidence of your peeps, you get to be the mastermind behind the year’s most exciting and typically booziest gatherings, promoting trips to pumpkin patches, shredding around ice skating rinks, and of course, throwing sick parties that your classmates will rave about for weeks or have no recollection of. In addition, you get to be a part of a great team of people who similarly enjoy having and crafting good times for everyone. There’s never a dull moment, and who knows, you might be the next baller responsible for “eau de keg stand” emanating from the lecture podium in Moore Auditorium or the hangover reminding everyone of the unsurmountable regiment of awesome that you served them the night before. - M1 Social Chairs 

IT Liaison: As IT Liaison, I have two primary objectives: 1) to collect and communicate the IT needs of my classmates to the medical school administration, and 2) to work with the MER to technologically enable new educational initiatives. I have a large amount of freedom to work on my own projects as well, so I make helpful how-to resources for my classmates and (unofficially) serve as our class tech support line. - Cory B. French, M1 IT Liaison

Read more about MSG


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Jamie M., M1

The Mental Health Outreach Program, or MHOP, is a student group dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of all students, as well as raising awareness about mental illness and advocating for those in our community who suffer from mental illnesses. To achieve these goals, we work with Student Support Services to plan activities that foster mental and physical wellbeing and self-care. We also train volunteers to teach depression and suicide awareness to teens through a program called CHADS. In the spring, we host an art show featuring art from those in our community with mental illnesses. We also sponsor Mental Health Awareness Week, which features panels, discussions, and activities designed to decrease the stigma around mental illness in medical school.

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NICU Cuddling

Faith W., M1

Buckle up, because I’m about to tell you about the single best activity you can engage in as a student at WUSM: being a NICU cuddler. As a cuddler, you sign up for shifts (at least two per month, but as many as you have time for) to go to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital NICU and HOLD BABIES. Yes, that is your actual job. The NICU is a stressful environment for an infant, and parents can’t always be present, so you are there to comfort and interact with the babies! The signup process is a little more complex than for most student groups, as you have to go through the SLCH Volunteer Office and attend a training session, but the rewards are entirely worth it. Not only are you making a significant difference in a child’s life, it’s a wonderful stress reliever for you! Other benefits: You get to wear a truly attractive bright blue volunteer shirt, and you'll receive a discount in the cafeteria when you show your volunteer badge.

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Pediatric Life Savers

Jane H., M1

Pediatric Life Savers (PLS) is a group of first year students who teach infant CPR to the parents of children in the NICU. Every Tuesday and Thursday two members of PLS go to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and invite parents to join us in a one-hour class. During the class we play an instructional video and parents practice CPR on infant mannequins with assistance from PLS instructors. Many of the family members find that the classes build confidence, as it makes them feel more comfortable in taking their baby home. As a student, I find PLS a rewarding organization because I am able to use my current knowledge and skills to make a difference for new parents.

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Religious Student Groups

Priyanka P., M1

The WashU medical community has many different student groups that can help you connect with other students of similar faith. Medical school can be challenging at times, so finding a support network here is important. Student groups include:

  • The Catholic Student Center (on the Danforth campus) provides an opportunity for students of any faith to pray, serve the community, and decompress.
  • The Christian Medical Association (CMA) offers Bible studies, opportunities to worship, and discussions with attendings and healthcare professionals.
  • The Jewish Medical Student Association (JMSA) connects students to faculty members, plans holiday celebrations (such as an all-school Hannukah event), and Shabbat dinners
  • The Muslim Students Association (MSA, on the Danforth campus) plans social and religious activities.
  • Atma is a group on the Danforth campus that organizes events such as visits to the Hindu temple.
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Jesse H., M1

Shadowing during your first year is a great way to gain exposure to other specialties and to clarify “what you want to be when you grow up.” Fortunately, as one of my fellow classmates put it, “getting into WashU is like the holy grail of shadowing.” Remember in undergrad when you tried shadowing surgery at your local hospital and got absolutely nowhere? Faculty and residents at WashU are incredibly willing and excited to have medical students follow and learn from them. Almost every specialty has an interest group that will post organized sign up sheets for shadowing opportunities. Most physicians are also quite responsive to email and will be happy to accommodate you in their schedule — no one has turned me down yet. I’ve shadowed general surgery, infectious disease, interventional radiology, Ob/Gyn, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and pediatric surgery all in the block I was here. Physicians are quite welcoming to medical students and often take extra time to teach and accommodate you. Residents and older medical students may be a little more harried, but are always kind and happy to teach has well! Altogether, shadowing at WashU has been a great experience.

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Tamara S. O., M1

The summer between first and second year is the last summer vacation you will ever have without any obligations. There is no requirement for you to do absolutely anything; that being said, as WashU students, we are lucky to have a myriad of wonderful opportunities that many students take advantage of. I am most excited about the Summer Opportunities Abroad Program (SOAP). SOAP is a fund that allows first year medical students to engage in research or clinical opportunities abroad. Students have the freedom to arrange their own experiences or join one of the WashU faculty who do research abroad and routinely take students with them. Students are encouraged to start connecting with potential research or clinical mentors during first semester because applications for SOAP are due early second semester (usually mid-January).

I enjoy research and want to play a role in advancing this critical pillar of medicine. However, I felt too busy to be an active lab member during the school year, so I want to use my time off this summer to fully engage in a public health research project. Furthermore, I love traveling and learning about the cultures, languages, and lifestyles of people from around the world. Through the SOAP program I’ll be able to combine both these passions— immerse myself in a new environment while working on a compelling research question.